Galvin ‘fesses up: Diebold TSx to be used in 12 communities

In a press release dated October 27, 2006 (nothing like sending out important releases on a Friday), Sec. Galvin finally admits that Massachusetts will indeed have Diebold’s AccuVote TSx touch-screen machines at select polling locations on November 7. In all, there will be 28 communities “testing” three types of machines. (I have a PDF of the release, but not sure how to link the file here, sorry.)

The release states:

In several municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, additional accessible voting equipment will be available during the November 7, 2006 State Election for voters with disabilities as well as any other voter who chooses to use it … Each voting system will provide a voter verifiable paper trail.

This is the first I’ve heard that the machines are not just for voters with disabilities. Also, the paper trail Galvin alludes to on the TSx machines is this lovely item, which has a litany of problems discussed here.

Here is a photo of the TSx with printer. See the “arm” on the right? That’s where the paper trail of your vote will scroll, with the magnifying lens (can’t make this stuff up) under the open black door for you to verify. Which begs the question, what happens if you’re a visually impaired voter?

Also, both Rebecca Mercuri and the Princeton researchers have found significant software issues with the TS machines.

The release continues:

Given the importance of procuring the most appropriate voting system accessible for voters with disabilities and the considerable amount of state and federal funds to be expended, Secretary Galvin believes further field testing is necessary before a final selection is made.

HAVA was passed in 2002. Why are we still “testing” machines four years later? As the Globe reported in August, Waltham, Woburn and Watertown were already test sites in 2005. In the same article, Galvin says that HAVA funds will cover $7 million of the potential $11 million cost of adding these machines statewide.

The release ends with the following:

Three types of voting machines that will be used are the AccuVote TSx with a voter verifiable paper audit trail, the AutoMARK voter assist terminal, and e-Slate with voter verifiable paper audit trail.

Boston will have accessible voting equipment in at least 75 polling places. The other communities will have an accessible voting machine in each of their polling places. Handicapped voters in more than 500 precincts will be able to take advantage of the new machines.

The AutoMARK machine will be at polling places in Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chicopee, Fall River, Framingham, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Newton, Quincy, Springfield, Waltham, and Worcester.

The AccuVote TSx machine will be at polling places in Amesbury, Ashburnham, Bedford, Georgetown, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-By-The-Sea, North Andover, Reading, Salisbury, Watertown, and Wenham.

The e-Slate machine will be used in Winthrop.

Finally, there’s also been talk about some disability rights groups being in favor of the Diebold machines. The NY Times followed the money trail in this 2004 editorial (sub. req.) to explain why this may be the case.

This is such a controversial issue, with so much evidence as to the failings of this equipment, I just don’t understand why we’d even go down this road. I haven’t even touched upon the matter of actually training poll workers on these machines in less than two weeks. Fun times!

(full disclosure – I was John Bonifaz’s campaign manager and am the former E.D. of MassVOTE)

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19 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. This is a disaser!

    When Kerry wins, you guys will just freak out!

    It doesn't matter so much that the VOTER have a reliable paper trail - you don't take away any little souveniers from the voting booth now, except for a little sticker that says I Voted!. It matters that a releiable paper trail be available for examiners in the event of a recount!

    Do these machines have a double roll of paper, similar to a cash register, where these paper tokens are replicated?

    • Single roll

      From what I can gather from researching this and looking at the roll replacements sold on the Diebold site, it's just one sheet.

      Also, it seems the voter doesn't walk away with anything, they just view the paper trail through that lens I pointed out in the original post and if it matches up, they confirm their vote. Again, not sure how this would work for blind voters.

      Plus, this still doesn't address the issue of the software itself and all the problems that have been exposed.

    • paper trail

      The thermal printout stays with the voting machine, the voter doesn't take it away.  What's important about a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAD) is that:

      1. Voters verify that it correctly recorded their vote 2. It cannot be easily altered after the voter verifies it 3. You can easily count the votes from the paper (by hand or machine) 4. The paper is the "ballot of record" under the law, trumping machine counts

      Diebold TSx's thermal printer non-solution is iffy on #1 (hard to verify read, and like all VVPADs on touchscreen voting machines, many voters don't bother to); so-so on #2 (can't be easily altered, but can easily degrade to unreadability); totally fails on #3; and #4 is up to Galvin.

      All in all, it's a joke, but a very serious and bad one.


    With a big sticker campaign for state rep in Framingham, why would they test the machines there???

    • I hope they at least have the decency to

      test the machines in precincts that are not in the 6th Middlesex district (which would be 8, 10, 11, 12, 15 and 16). We will have enough voter confusion in the rest of the precincts as it is.

      Registered voters in the 6th Middlesex received a mailing from Secretary of State Galvin's office stating that a vote for Deborah Blumer will not be counted, and explaining how to correctly do a write-in vote. The explanation talks specifically about "the ballot card" and how to "write in" the name & address of your candidate or attach a pre-printed sticker "and then darken the oval to the right." This clearly implies that the voters in the 6th Middlesex should be expecting to use our traditional paper ballots for optical scanning equipment.

      Unless voters in other 6th Middlesex precincts got a different mailing where the touch-screen machines are also discussed, I see this as a HUGE problem in an already too-complex election (made so by the unfortunate ruling by Secretary Galvin that there wasn't enough time to print up new ballots allowing town political parties to name replacement candidates for the ballot.)

      • Oh wait, never mind.

        The press release says Framingham isn't getting the touch-screen to test, it's getting the AutoMARK voter-assist terminal to help the disabled mark optical-scan ballots. So never mind about that touch-screen machine comment above ... although frankly, I don't think Framingham ought to be testing any new technology period this election. It's going to be a tough enough election for officials here as it is, I agree with Pablo.

  3. Vote against Galvin

    This strikes me as all the more reason to vote for Jill Stein, who's running against Galvin on the Green-Rainbow ticket.

    • And I will.

      Since no Republican is running, and since Stein is an excellent candidate, I can't see any reason why anyone interested in election integrity wouldn't vote for her.

    • I agree

      I still hold all the opinions I've stated before about needing to support the Democratic nominee, and I still believe the Green party is a dead end for progressives... but this trumps all of that.  I know Galvin's going to win, and I wish Jill Stein were a Democrat, but I just can't ask anyone to vote for a secretary of state who brings Diebold TSx into a paper ballot state.  Galvin's continued refusal to debate (he skipped out on an invitation to appear with Jill Stein on TV, that he neither accepted nor rejected) is anti-democratic, and now his action to undermine the process of vote counting shows him to be anti-democratic.  I categorize him along with Joe Lieberman: sure he has had a long history with the Democrats, but he's no Democrat now.

      • I'm glad, but a question

        I'm glad you agree, Cos, but I have a clarifying question about your note that you "know Galvin's going to win."  If Galvin's win weren't a given, and Stein actually had a shot, wouldn't you still vote for her?

  4. Stein criticizes Galvin's move; Why the rush to electronic voting?

    (disclosure: another Jill Stein campaign staff post)

    You can read Jill Stein's press release on Galvin's move either here at BMG or here on Jill Stein's Got Democracy? Blog.

    Jill's campaign has been focusing on the lobbying and influence-peddling that dominates Beacon Hill, and the fact that the Secretary's office oversees the whole apparatus of influence-peddling. In doing some research on the voting machine issue (I got deep into it after the 2004 election but then couldn't keep up with it anymore), I saw how the whole thing came full circle. Look at this gem on HAVA:

    Provisions in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), pushed many states into the uncharted territory of electronic voting. HAVA was engineered by convicted Ohio Congressman Bob Ney, whose chief of staff, David DiStefano, left to become a Diebold lobbyist. Ney is also known to have accepted favors – including a golfing trip to Scotland – from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose firm, Greenberg Traurig, received $275,000 from Diebold.

    In this case it's the lobbying and influence-peddling at the federal level that is making the 2006 elections nationwide a potential travesty. States are rushing into these machines -- and one-third of voters nationwidewill be voting on machines never before used in a general election.

    There's just no excuse for moving towards these machines now. There are so many vulnerabilities and the company has demonstrated again and again and again that they can't be trusted with our elections!

  5. I'm really disgusted by this.

    Galvin never agreed to debate John Bonifaz but in the 2 - 3 speeches I heard him make, Galvin always mentioned that he's kept the electronic voting machines out of Massachusetts, to great applause, I may add.

    Now, after the primary's over, he's bringing them in. I'm glad  I voted for Bonifaz. I did so because of the arrogance, meanness and disdain Galvin displayed whenever his opponent was mentioned. I'm probably going to vote for Jill Stein, too, which I wasn't going to do earlier.

  6. Optical scans

    What's wrong with optical scan ballots?

    In Springfield, the ballot has the name next to two squares. To vote for someone, you simply draw a line on the paper connecting the squares.

    What's the problem with that? Why is that undesirable?

    Sure, software can still be tampered with, but there are paper ballots that are infallible; those paper ballots determine the vote, they don't just purport to represent the vote.

    • I'm OKwith Diebold Optical Scan...

      ...and just did a recount where 5 of 7 towns used them.  Individual paper ballots, easily recounted, no problem.

      It's the new electronic Touchscreen, with no paper but a supermarket tape, that have us upset.

  7. Itll send a message to the hackocrat Galvin that we wont stand for sloppiness on the job, and Stein wont use it as a bully pulpit or a way to get her dad clients like Bonifaz would have.

  8. Is it a politics of hope downticket too?

    While Deval Patrick is exhibiting character, staying above the usual mudslinging that has turned many people off from the political process and the both the Republicans and the Democrats, Sec. Galvin is a prime example of the arrogance associated with the entrenched incumbent office holder.

    I admired John Bonifaz when he began his campaign from what I knew of his career and work with NVRI and think he'd have made an excellent Sec. of the Commonwealth. He struck me as a genuinely approachable, intelligent and modest man when we interviewed him on Saint Kermit (see our archives for episode 10 from January 16, 2006 http://saintkermit.c... d=63).

    Based on this campaign alone, I can't see why anyone who supports Deval Patrick would support Galvin, a man who refuses to debates his opponents, makes an issue of his opponent's (real or alleged) past political affiliation(s) (a Kerry Healey-like move having more to do with raising controversey about the opponent than about the issues), and who runs a campaign devoid of issues and based solely on his incumbency.

    I think it's much too early to write off the Green-Rainbow Party as being unable to be the vehicle for progressive issues in the electoral arena as the party is only four years old and the Greens in MA only go back as a seriouly organized electoral force for ten years. I am, however, confident that if the GRP continues to field candidates of the caliber of Jill Stein and Grace Ross, it has a right, for the time being, to expect to continue to grow into being that vehicle.

    And yes, in the interests of full disclosure, I was Jill Stein's running mate in 2002.

  9. Bill Amend gets it -- check out today's Fox Trot

    • for real

      At least one girl in Brookline, MA actually did this: Went trick or treating dressed up as a touchscreen voting machine.  My friend (Sonia's campaign manager) gave her lots of candy when she came by her house!

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